Department of Justice Canada
The Department of Justice Canada (JUS) is responsible for providing support to the Minister’s dual mandate as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. As such, it provides policy and program advice, litigates civil cases by or on behalf of the Federal Crown, and provides legal advice to federal law enforcement agencies and other government departments.
In 2013–2014, JUS received 548 requests, an increase of 60% compared to 343 requests in 2012–2013. JUS also received 917 consultations from other government institutions. While this represents a decrease compared to the previous year (1,339), JUS still received more consultations than any other federal institution subject to the Access to Information Act. Its performance improved compared to the previous reporting period, especially in terms of completion time.
Among all requests in its inventory, JUS completed about 82% of them (an increase of about 5% compared to 2012–2013).
The media was the most common source of requests received in 2013–2014 (44.7%), followed the public (34.5%) and the private sector (13.5%). This is similar to results observed in 2012–2013.
According to its annual report, JUS processed an additional 206 informal requests (62 more than in 2012–2013).
Table 1. Workload
||Reporting Period 2012–2013
||Reporting Period 2013–2014
|Number of requests received
|Number of consultations received (from other government institutions)
|Average number of pages processed per request completed
|% of requests for which more than 1,000 pages were processed
|Note: The average number of pages processed per request completed and the percentage of requests for which more than 1,000 pages were processed are calculated from the total of requests completed for which the information was disclosed (in part or totally), exempted/excluded and for requests abandoned. It excludes requests completed for the following dispositions: no records exist, requests transferred and requests treated informally.
The number of pages processed increased by 65% compared to 2012–2013, an increase that could be attributed to the increase in requests completed (63%). The number of pages processed by JUS increased by about 26 pages per request completed. The average number of pages processed per request completed (498) was one of the highest observed across the 27 institutions analyzed.
In 2013–2014, JUS responded to 380 requests within 30 days, which represents 72% of all requests completed. This is similar to the results achieved in 2012–2013. The average number of days to complete a request went down by 13 days, from 78 days in 2012–2013 to 65 in 2013–2014.
The proportion of requests closed past the statutory or extended deadline also decreased in 2013–2014, representing about 9.85% of the requests completed compared to 21.1% in 2012–2013. The proportion achieved in 2013–2014 represents a “B” grade. Workload was identified as the principal reason for late requests 52% of the time.
In 2013–2014, a total of 140 extensions were taken to complete requests, which is 59 extensions more than in 2012–2013.
A vast majority of the extensions were for more than 30 days (66.4% in 2013–2014). This is similar to 2012–2013.
Figure 1. Length of extensions (2011–2012 to 2013–2014)
Figure 1 is a bar chart with vertical bars, representing the length of extensions taken by JUS during each reporting period between 2011–2012 and 2013–2014. The results are as follows:
||30 days or less
||More than 365 days
About half of the extensions in 2013–2014 were for consultations under paragraph 9(1)(b). An additional 42% were taken under paragraph 9(1)(a) (interference with operations). This proportion was 28% in 2012–2013.
Of the requests completed in 2013–2014, 14% were disclosed in full. While this proportion represents a 2% increase compared to 2012–2013, it is still below the government-wide results (27%). The proportion of pages processed that were disclosed also decreased by 5% during the same period. However, a higher proportion of pages were disclosed entirely (from 7% in 2012–2013 to 21.5% in 2013–2014).
The proportion of requests completed for which no records existed went down in 2013–2014 (from 22.3% to 16.5%), but was still above the government-wide average of 10.5%.
During the 2013–2014 reporting period, a total of 655 exemptions and 82 exclusions were applied. The ratio of exemptions/exclusions per request completed remained the same (1.40) for both 2012–2013 and 2013–2014.
Frequently applied exemptions in 2013–2014 included: government operations (210 times), personal information (164 times) and solicitor-client privilege (153 times).
Table 2. Performance
|Completion of Requests
|% of requests completed within 30 days
|Average number of days to complete a request
|% of requests closed past statutory or extended deadline
|% of consultations from government institution completed within 30 days
|% of extensions of 30 days or less
|Level of Disclosure
|% of pages processed that were disclosed
|% of requests completed for which the information was disclosed entirely
|% of pages disclosed entirely
|Number of exemptions/exclusions per request completed
According to JUS’s annual report 2013–2014, the institution developed new guidelines that are aimed at guiding institutions that consult with JUS. They clarified the role played by Justice in these consultations. Since most consultations are related to the application of section 23 (solicitor-client privilege), JUS began offering training to the ATIP community on this matter.
Following a complaint to the Information Commissioner, JUS changed its approach to processing grants and contributions records for access purposes. JUS mentioned in its annual report, that it “amended its Grants and Contributions Application Form to include a caveat informing applicants that the information provided to the Department will be entirely disclosed, with the exception of personal information.”
In 2013–2014, the number of complaints registered against JUS more than doubled compared to 2012–2013 (24 to 51 complaints).
The vast majority of complaints received in 2013–2014 were for refusal (88.2%), with 21 of them being related to the use of exemptions/exclusions.
Of the completed complaints (19 were still pending as of April 2015), 9 were considered to be well-founded, 10 were not well-founded, while 8 more complaints were settled. Finally, 5 complaints were discontinued.